Shame is my default

One of my earliest memories, if not THE earliest, is of my Dad carrying my mom to the shower and throwing her in.

Looking back at it now, I think he was probably trying to sober her up.

But at the time, it just scared me. I loved my mom so much. I was thoroughly devoted to her. In my 2-3 year old mind, I didn’t understand why my Dad was trying to hurt her.

Being already pre-disposed to shyness and fear, I learned to be afraid of my Dad. He was big and mean and loud.

Don’t get me wrong—I know he loved me. We had lots of great times together. But his relationship with my mom was confusing to young child me. They were supposed to love each other! Why were they always hurting each other?

But I digress.

Today when I am afraid, I know that is my default thinking. From such a young age, I was afraid of everything. I couldn’t even trust my own parents who were supposed to give me an atmosphere of love and safety. The whole world was scary.

Our brains want an explanation for everything. It wants to place blame so that it can then solve the problem. For many people, they so desperately don’t want to be the one to blame that they blame everyone around them.

But for me, blaming others doesn’t seem to come as naturally and I wondered why. My default was blaming myself.

I think this is why:

I can control myself. I can change myself.

Everyone outside of me was unpredictable bordering on volatile.

So it makes sense to me that even as a young child my brain found refuge in blaming me. It felt more safe. If I could just stay quiet and unnoticeable, they everything would be ok.

But that no longer serves me. In order to serve the people around me I have to be willing to be seen and heard. I can’t blend in.

The interesting thing is that there really is nobody to blame. My brain is to blame. And not even really to blame. My brain is responsible. Responsible for keeping me safe as a child and now for keeping me small.

In order to overcome it, I have to be willing to feel the discomfort of feeling vulnerable so that I can do my work in the world.